March 13, 2020
Dear EPS Families and Staff,
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has advised schools to take measures to slow (mitigate) the spread of the coronavirus. Their recommendation is to keep schools open and the learning day operating as usual. However, they recommend that we reduce the numbers of additional people entering our buildings and cancel events that would draw large numbers of spectators.
This afternoon, the Minnesota State High School League decided to suspend all competitions and scrimmages until April 6. EHS athletics practices will continue as they do not include spectators.
Additionally, district leadership has made the following decisions, in effect through the end of March:
- Large group events within our schools, and the participation of Edina students in large events outside of the district, are being postponed or cancelled. Watch for specific information from activity advisors, music directors, and coaches. (There is a possibility that some EHS concerts could be performed without a live audience and streamed online -- watch for information!)
- We are cancelling large events that were scheduled to be held in our buildings by outside organizations.
We will revisit the district wide activities schedule for April in the coming weeks and make decisions based on information available at that time.
NO SCHOOL FRIDAY, MARCH 20
On Friday, March 20, we are changing the district schedule from an Early Release Day to an All-Day Professional Development Day for staff. Staff across the district will use the day to collaborate on planning for e-Learning Days in the event that MDH or the State call for a school closure. We know this is a change in the calendar that you were not expecting and may impact your family’s plans, but we appreciate your patience as we continue to respond and plan as the coronavirus scenario unfolds. School care programming for that day is being developed and families who are currently enrolled will receive information on Monday.
As you may know, EPS and most school districts are in need of bus drivers. (In fact, we maintain an open job posting for bus drivers all year.) We have the driving staff we need for day-to-day operations but very few substitute drivers. With influenza season still in full swing and now concerns around COVID-19, we want to have a contingency plan in case we experience an increase in driver absences. We have created an alternate bus transportation plan that includes modified start and end times for some schools in order to build in more time for fewer drivers to cover all routes.
If this plan needs to be put into place, you would receive notification in the same way we communicate weather-related schedule changes. Please view the Alternate Bus Schedule so you are familiar with the plan.
COVID-19 IDENTIFICATION PROCESS
We want to be sure that you have an understanding of how identification and communication of COVID-19 works. Any suspected coronavirus cases are referred to MDH, which then works with local healthcare providers for testing. If a case is confirmed, MDH then back maps that person’s activities and contacts, and alerts anyone who may have been exposed. Those people then self-quarantine and businesses or public places may close for thorough cleaning.
If there were a confirmed case of COVID-19 in our school community (students, staff, or parent/family members) and MDH determines there was risk of exposure, MDH would contact the superintendent directly with information and their recommendation.
We continue to take direction from MDH and monitor information being released by the CDC. We are receiving many messages of concern and we read them all and incorporate your questions into our Response Team meetings. We do not have the capacity to personally respond to each email, so please thoroughly read the messages we are sending. All of the district’s messages are archived on the Coronavirus Information web page. Find a link to that page under the Shortcuts on district and school websites, or use this url: edinaschools.org/CoronavirusInfo
OUR ROLE IN THE COMMUNITY
In its latest message, MDH emphasizes the importance of keeping schools open and learning days intact as long as healthy conditions permit. Schools provide the structure that holds communities together, giving a sense of normalcy for children, families and community. The ripple effect of closing schools would be felt in businesses, the workforce, and most importantly in students’ education. We cannot make good decisions for our schools, students and staff if they are based in fear and anxiety. The entire school community, of which you are an important part, has a role to play in helping the community-at-large manage this difficult and complex time by modeling calm and logical response to this new challenge.
We appreciate the support we are receiving from families. I am especially grateful for the hard work and creative thinking of staff across the district as we create contingency plans for what is yet unknown. I hope all of you will have time this weekend to take a deep breath, enjoy the good weather, and spend time with your families.